Will continue fight over land bill, Sonia Gandhi assures Anna Hazare

New Delhi: Congress president Sonia Gandhi has told social activist Anna Hazare that she agrees with him the land bill brought by the Narendra Modi government was not in the interest of farmers and her party will continue its fight against it.

Sonia Gandhi
Sonia Gandhi

In her reply to Hazare's letter on the land bill, Gandhi said that Congress will oppose the bill in every forum.

"I agree with you that the ordinance brought by the NDA (National Democratic Alliance) government and the amended bill in parliament are not at all in the interests of farmers," Gandhi said in her letter sent Tuesday but released to the media on Wednesday.

The Congress president said that representatives of 14 political parties had met President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday to urge him not to let the government go ahead with the "anti-farmer bill".

The bill, which has been passed by Lok Sabha, is yet to be passed by Rajya Sabha, where the government does not command a majority.

"I assure you that our fight will continue on this issue," Gandhi said.

Hazare had sent a three-page letter to Gandhi March 14, seeking the party's cooperation in opposing the land bill.

"The anti-farmer provisions in the bill should not be passed at any cost. I urge you to strongly oppose them in the Rajya Sabha and force the government to take decisions in the interest of farmers," he said.

Hazare, who had also participated in an agitation against the bill, said that the land acquisition bill passed by the UPA government in 2013 had provided some relief to farmers and there was no need for the BJP-led government to bring an ordinance in December last year.

Noting Modi government had promised "acche din (good days)", he said it instead brought in anti-farmer measure and demanded the provisions of land mapping and classification as well as a law to prevent fertile land being used for industry.

Backing several provisions of the UPA's law including those relating to return of land to the owner if the project was not completed in a stipulated time, he said the Modi government has tinkered with the section providing land acquisition for government projects and private companies only after securing 80 percent consent from farmers and from 70 percent of land owners in case of public private partnerships.

The provisions of consent and social impact assessment should stay, he said, claiming the new law will allow acquisition of multi-crop land which will was not possible under the 2013 act.

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